Tips for Choosing a Baby Name

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Updated March 2, 2017
Lots of colorful post-it notes stuck to wall with baby names.
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No luck finding the perfect name? Join the club. Whether it’s duking out options with your partner or stressing over “Sara” versus “Sarah,” choosing a name can be a fun yet frustrating process. “When it came time to choose names for our son and daughter, we were stumped,” says our editor in chief, Carley Roney. “We didn’t want to be too traditional but were worried that creativity might become a curse on the playground. So, we turned to our favorite places for inspiration: We named our daughter Havana after the restaurant where we had our first date. And we named our son Cairo because we’ve always wanted to go to Egypt and plan to take him there for his 16th birthday present.”

Carley, who’s currently pregnant with her third yet-to-be-named child, is considering these ideas for her little bundle of anonymous joy.

All in the Family
A traditional way to narrow down your choices is to pick a person in your family who means something special to you and who embodies the characteristics you wish for your little one. In some cultures, it’s common to use the full name of a father, grandfather, mother, or grandmother, etc. One way to reach an agreement with your spouse is to choose the first name from one side of the family and the middle name from the other side.

International Flair
Giving your child a name rooted in your personal history can add a sense of identity and interest. Try “Claude” if you come from a long lineage of French ancestry; or “Finn” or “Kelsey” in homage to Scandinavian roots.“Juji,” an African name, means “heaps of love.” And don’t be limited by your own culture: Many parents are now finding beautiful and interesting baby names from a wide variety of ethnic and historical origins (Suri Cruise has a Persian name that means “red rose”).

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Location, Location, Location
Turn to a world atlas for your baby’s moniker like Victoria and David Beckham did when they named their son Brooklyn. Did you first meet in the music clubs of Austin? The hip Texas town is a great name for a boy or a girl. Love your yearly ski trips out west? Try “Jackson,” “Vail,”or “Aspen.” When choosing a name based on location, just remember to choose one that’s easy to spell.

Read a Good Book
Like Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, name your tot after a character from your favorite book (they named daughter Scout, the young child in To Kill a Mockingbird). Many names that are emerging in popularity are rooted in characters from the best-seller list like Madeline, Eloise, Sawyer, and Scarlett.

They Can Be Heroes
Bestow a future of giving to your child by naming him or her after someone who inspires you, like Christopher Reeve, Michael J. Fox, Maya Angelou —even Bono or Oprah if you’re adventurous. Or turn to heroes of the past: Rosa Parks, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Anne Frank, or Princess Diana.

Whichever source of inspiration works for you,enjoy choosing a name for your new addition. You might also want to consider keeping it a secret between the two of you until the baby’s born to avoid any unwelcome, though well-intentioned, advice from friends and family.

- Amy Shey Jacobs

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Whether you're looking for a baby girl name, a baby boy name or both, The Bump is here to help you find the perfect one:

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